12/03/15 A Chaotic Week


The residents of Tel Aviv do their best to block out the events swirling around them, but that has been very hard to do so in the past few weeks. The news of the San Bernadino, California shooting led the news reports here for the past two days. To most Israelis, the seemingly endless discussion over whether or not the latest brutal California attack was an act of terrorism, seems a little absurd. The fact that 14 people were gunned down in cold blood and the area’s entire population was terrorized that seems like a clearcut case of terrorism – regardless the exact motives of the perpetrators. Of course, America’s endless debate on gun control is completely incomprehensible to a population that has been universally trained to use guns, but very few actually own their own weapons – (with the exception of those who live in the West Bank).

While the shooting in California has dominated news broadcasts, discussion on the street is closer to home. Announcement of the arrest of suspects in the arson murder in K’far Duma raised some hopes that Israel would be able to come to grips with its self-spawned terror. Unfortunately, we do not seem to be quite there. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated this morning that they still do not have enough evidence to try the suspects who are being held in administrative detention, pending the government’s ability to bring charges.

Ironically the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, who's is usually seen protesting the ill-treatment of Palestinians has protested that the Jewish suspects in the K’far Dama arson have had their rights violated, by being held in administrative detention and not being able to see their lawyers. Most Israelis would like to see the suspects brought to trial as soon as possible, and hope that the hideous acts are the work of a very small, fanatical group of people.

Continued fallout from the Turkish downing the Russian fighter bomber a week ago continues to be watched carefully by most Israelis observers of the news. This action has added another layer of instability to the area surrounding Israel . – A direct consequence is the fact that he Russians have deployed their most advanced anti-aircraft system (the S-400) in Syria, something no Israeli planner ever anticipated. Israel has, not doubt, long ago developed a strategy for defeating the older S-300 (which the Russians have promise repeatedly to the Iranians), but the S-400 might (and I only say might) present a greater challenge.

In the meantime, it would seem Israel’s close relationship to Russia and especially to it’s leader Vladimir Putin has been baring fruit. Reports from Syria that Israel struck targets in Syria last night – either once or twice – confirms the fact that Russia has given Israel a green light to continue to attack Hezbollah, Russia’s ally in it’s fight in Syria.

Of course, all of this has been happening against the background of the continued knifings and vehicular homocide attacks taking place by Palestinians against Israelis, primarily in the West bank. On Friday there were three attacks. Unfortunately, the attacks have become so routine to almost seem like another mugging in Central Park in New York during the 1980s’. To Tel Aviv residents, events in the West Bank and Jerusalem appear to be taking place in a different universe, far, far away (even though it’s a mere 50-miles from here.)

Finally, any reflections on events of the last week would be incomplete without at least making reference to the ongoing sex scandals revolving around improper actions of men towards women in their employ or under their command. Recent Israelis history is full of such stories and scandals. The latest scandal this week forced a young, up and coming Member of the Knesset from the Bayit Hayehudi party to resign from Israeli parliament; while one of the top commanders of the Israeli police department has been asked to remain on paid leave while allegations against him are investigated.

Just another week in Tel Aviv, located in one of the most “peaceful” places on earth.